Ulam for the Week: Easy Weekly Meal Planning

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  • 🍲 Meal Planning Benefits: Meal prepping saves time, stress, and money, while ensuring smoother household operations.
  • 📅 Prep Day: Allocating an hour on Sundays for meal planning can positively impact the entire week.
  • 🛒 Shopping Efficiency: Using a planned shopping list avoids wasted groceries and reduces the need for expensive, last-minute takeout.
  • 🍽 Healthy Eating: Prepped meals lead to quicker, healthier dinners and can encourage more vegetable and balanced meal consumption.
  • 🍳 Versatile Cooking: Embrace variety in meals through versatile dishes that are easy to reheat and still taste great after a few days.
  • 📝 Organization: Utilizing spreadsheets, dry erase boards, or apps for menu planning aids in organization and grocery listing.
  • 🗓 Menu Sample: Offers a 7-day menu example to inspire meal planning, emphasizing variety and the possibility of transforming leftovers.

Effective meal planning, with a focus on preparation and variety, can significantly ease the weekly dinner rush, promoting both financial savings and healthier eating habits.

#MealPrepping #HealthyEating #MenuPlanning #TimeManagement #FoodWasteReduction

Ulam for the week problems? Hello fellow moms and parents! It’s April from Relax Lang Mom coming at you with tips and tricks to make meal planning a breeze. As we all know, staying on top of what’s for dinner each night can feel downright dreadful. But with a little preparation and a good perspective, we can make menu making much more manageable by creating an “ulam for the Week” hit list. 

As a working mom on a tropical island far from the city, I know how hard it can be to plan meals when the market and grocery is so far away. And more so for those moms and families in the city with everyday challenges such as long traffic, busy schedules, and unending work.

That’s why I’m a big advocate for meal prepping on Sundays to make the rest of the week easier. I’ve found that taking just an hour on Sunday afternoons to plan out my weekly meals has made such a positive difference for our whole family. Not only does it save me time and stress during the week when I’m tired, but it helps my household run smoother and saves money too. No more daily dashes to the dreadful dairy aisle wondering “What’s for dinner?”. Instead, just gather your prepped groceries and get cooking. No more forgotten foodstuffs hiding in the fridge too!

One key advantages of meal prepping is eliminating wasted groceries because you use a planned shopping list. You also avoid expensive last-minute takeout orders when you’re unprepared. Having dishes already made means quicker and healthier dinners, even on busy nights. It can also encourage my kids to eat more vegetables and balanced nutrient-rich meals when options are limited.

Weekday mornings flow much more calmly if I know lunchboxes are packed and prepped the night before. Having the mental break of a meal plan gives me more patience and presence with my family. Overall, just an hour of planning yields huge rewards in terms of simplicity, savings and well-being.

Here are some tips for putting together delicious ulam (dishes) for the whole family.

What meals can I prep for the week?

Well, friends, the possibilities are practically endless! Soups, stews, casseroles, baked dishes, roasted veggies – basically anything that’s even easier to eat en masse is excellent for prepping ahead. I find one pot meals especially admirable as they allow you to assemble the entire dish in one – you guessed it – pot. Just think, burritos, pasta bakes, fried rice. The options are mind-boggling!

There are also lots of classic Filipino dishes that are perfect for meal prepping. Some of my favorites to make in bulk are adobo, kaldereta, menudo, and stir fries. Not a lot of people do this but rice and pancit can also be cooked in large batches and reheated throughout the week. Soups, stews, and curries actually tend to taste even better on day 2 or 3 after the flavors have had time to blend.

How do I plan a menu for a week?

Personally, I like to pick meals that are versatile to avoid culinary chaos. For instance, tacos one night can easily become nachos the next with some leftover fixings. The same chicken can star in salads during the day and pasta at night. Get creative with your leftovers to avoid the same stale stale. I also aim to have variety in flavors, cuisines and cooking methods. Mix it up with baked, slow-cooked, 30-minute meals and more. This keeps mealtime from becoming mundane.

But the easiest way is to plan your menu around recipes you already know and love. Look through your cookbooks or recipe apps for 5-7 go-to dishes. Then assign each one to a night of the week. Be sure to include a variety of protein, veggie and carb sources. You can also theme your nights – like tacos on Tuesday or pasta night. I have a low-carb weekly meal plan here.

How do I organize my menu for the week?

I write out my weekly menu on a spreadsheet or Word document. This helps me visualize my plan and make a grocery list. Some people find that writing them on a large dry erase board in the refrigerator or the kitchen is more effective I also designate containers for each meal and label them clearly so there’s no guessing later in the week. Organization is key for stress-free meal prepping.

Can I meal prep for 7 days?

It’s definitely possible to prep meals for an entire week, but I don’t recommend letting food sit for longer than 5-6 days in the fridge for safety and taste reasons. The quality tends to decline after a week. It’s best to prepare fresh servings for the last couple of days. You can still do all the prep work on Sunday though!

Should I meal prep for 7 days?

For most busy families, prepping meals for 5 days is plenty to save time and stress during the week. Don’t feel like you need to push it to 7 days. Listen to your schedule and energy level. Shorter prep sessions are more sustainable in the long run. The goal is to make life easier, not more work!

What’s a good menu for the week?

Here’s a One Meal A Day (OMAD) Blueprint sample that I’m currently using. It’s a pretty extreme diet fad that is not recommended by nutritionists. I don’t, as well. For me, the appeal of OMAD is eating as you please, and takes away the regimen of proper nutrition.  It takes the focus away from what food you eat and instead concentrates on restricting when you can eat it.

So why am I using OMAD? For me, the appeal of OMAD is cooking once a day and that’s it. This OMAD Blueprint cooks a lot for lunch and the leftovers will be eaten at night. Lol. So I have crafted a balanced meal with everything together. Of course, I am not a nutritionist and I am only sharing what works for my family.

The Perfect Pinoy OMAD Blueprint

Main Protein: Fish and Pork

  • Grilled Bangus (Milkfish) Belly: Marinate bangus belly in a mix of calamansi juice, soy sauce, garlic, and a hint of brown sugar. Grill to perfection, ensuring the outside is slightly crisp and the inside is properly cooked and flaky.
  • Pork Sinigang: A sour broth flavored with tamarind, this dish incorporates tender pork belly pieces, kangkong (water spinach), radish, and green chili. It’s a comforting hug in a bowl, balancing the grilled fish’s smokiness.

Vegetable Symphony

  • Tortang Talong (Eggplant Salad): Charred eggplant with onions and tomatoes, dipped in eggsand fried. This is a classic side to grilled fishes.
  • Ginisang Monggo (Sautéed Mung Beans): Mung beans cooked with malunggay leaves (moringa), tomatoes, It’s a powerhouse of nutrients, offering fiber, protein, and vitamins.

Fruit Fiesta

  • Mango and Pomelo Salad: These fruits are good enough on its own but perfect if tossed together. A sweet and citrusy salad with ripe mangoes and pomelo, tossed in a light dressing of honey, lime, and a pinch of chili flakes. Perfect for cleansing the palate.

Sides and Extras

  • Brown Rice: A healthier alternative to white rice, offering a nutty flavor and extra fiber.
  • Homemade Atchara (Pickled Papaya): The perfect balance of sweet and sour, achara complements the grilled fish beautifully, adding a crunchy texture to the meal.

Bringing It All Together

Picture this: a plate overflowing with colors and textures, So yummy! The smoky sweetness of the grilled bangus belly pairs beautifully with the tangy, savory broth of the pork sinigang. The talong adds a refreshing creaminess, while the ginisang monggo brings a comforting earthiness. The mango and pomelo salad injects a sweet, citrusy burst, making each forkful a delightful surprise. And let’s not forget the sides—the nutty brown rice and crunchy achara add layers of flavor and texture, making this OMAD meal a balanced, satisfying feast.

Sample 7-day meal plan

Here’s a sample 7-day menu I often use:

  • Monday: Chicken Adobo, ensaladang talong, and stir-fried cabbage
  • Tuesday: Tuna pasta salad and pork chops
  • Wednesday: Beef kaldereta, pork nilaga, steamed vegetables
  • Thursday: Pork binagoongan rice bowl, fried fish, green salad
  • Friday: Sinigang na bangus and salted egg and tomatoes, stir-fried vegetables
  • Saturday: Grilled mahi-mahi, pork steak, veggie stir fry
  • Sunday: Leftovers or takeout

For OMAD meals, your choices should cater to different cravings while allowing leftovers to transform into new meals. For example, leftover chicken adobo can become chicken adobo sanwich, beef caldereta can make way for beef caldereta pasta, Binagoongan Fried Rice is awesome for Binagoongan leftovers, You can certainly improvise based on your fams and kids preferences of course. The main idea is to have options organized and within reach.

Does this help give you some ideas for putting together delicious, relaxed ulam plan for the whole family? Let me know if you have any other questions! Be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter below for more easy Filipino recipes and meal planning tips.

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